2010/4/29 木曜日

More words: “Is your child ready for communal life?”

There are lots of Japanese words I just plain don’t like. Many of them are related to children and learning and schools, so I haven’t had as much contact with them workwise as mothering-wise. The end result being that I don’t think about them so much as rebel against (and complain about) them.

I recently had work-related contact with one of my least favorite phrases: 集団生活 shuudan seikatsu, literally “life in a group.”  Many mothers use it as a reason for putting their children into preschool as soon as they are eligible–they want the kids to get used to shuudan seikatsu early on.  (My daughters went to preschool the instant they were old enough, but it was because I wanted someone else to play with them for part of the day!)

Anyway, shuudan seikatsu has been stuck in my craw for years–and I never understood exactly why until a few days ago when the word came up in an editing job. The translator had written about the notion of a five-year-old being “adapted for communal life.” I checked the original Japanese, and sure enough, there it was–”able to deal with shuudan seikatsu.”  This was the aha moment!

I grew up in the 60s and 70s–during the glory days of, well, communal life in the United States. Although I never lived in a commune, I was on the fringes for several years and saw many people I loved and respected heading in that direction. Somehow, though, the notion of being unable to personally own anything was more than I could deal with. I had a good bike, a nice flute, the typewriter my dad took to college, and a few hundred dollars in the bank. The possibility of signing away even those was just too depressing.

So that was it!  My brain read shuudan seikatsu as “communal life,” and I was  terrified of the notion that my children, my only blood relatives on this side of the Pacific, would be ripped from my arms, and I would never see them except for short vacations in the summer or maybe at New Years. They would belong to someone else.

After years of living in the shadow of this menacing image, I could finally kill it off–and in plenty of time to apply it to any possible grandchildren. I carefully crossed out  “adapted for communal life” and wrote in “capable of participating fully in group activities.”


2010/4/27 火曜日


Filed under: life in Japan,日本語,英語一般 — admin @ 8:19:14



今週末、目眩で寝込みました。音も光もよくないと、刺激なく、自分でぼんやりと二日間あれこれ考えました。目眩していたのであまり深いことは考えられなかったので、この「レジュメ」の謎に取り組みました。となりでイヤホーンでテレビを見ていた相棒兼看護士にiPhoneで「レジュメ」を 調べるように頼みました。

なんと、元々は英語ではなく、フランス語の「resumé 」です。その意味は「要約」、英語では「summary」です。なるほど!履歴書は人の人生の要約とも言えるし、議題は会議の要約でもあります。

数百年前から20世紀まで、英語圏の人はフランスのことを色々憧れました。教育のある人は格好をつけて、話にも文書にもフランス語をたくさん使いました。つまり、今私を困らせているカタカナ言葉は昔フランス人もきっと英語圏人に対して感じました。 「ちゃんと英語があるのに、なぜフランス語の意味を都合よく変えて使っているんだろう」と思った人がいたにちがいありません。

2010/4/20 火曜日

The only time I’ve ever wished it was “Debra”

Filed under: English entries — admin @ 18:49:59

The Onion, a daily online newspaper, recently published an article entitled, “New Six Flags Ride Based on Relationship with Deborah.”

I think the 75% of baby-boomer women who share my name will agree–The Onion (which is well known for playing fast and loose with the facts anyway) needs to change the name in that article to one more suitable to the thirty-ish picture on that New Six Flags Ride photo. I’m thinking Tiffany or Heather.

2010/4/16 金曜日

Nobuko Takagai wins Kawabata Award for Short Story “Tomosui”

Filed under: English entries,,翻訳業,高樹のぶ子 — admin @ 7:35:29

Nobuko Takagi has won the 36th Kawabata Yasunari Literature Award for Short Stories. The winning story was “Tomosui,” a tale set in the Philippines, written as a part of her Soaked In Asia project, and first published in Shincho magazine, April 2009.

Read the English version (by Deborah Iwabuchi) on Ms. Takagi’s blog.


Filed under: ブログ,日本語,,翻訳業,高樹のぶ子 — admin @ 7:35:13

第36回川端康成文学賞(川端康成記念会主催)は15日、高樹のぶ子さん(64)の「トモスイ」(新潮2009年4月号)に決まった。賞金100万円。授 賞式は6月25日、東京・虎ノ門のホテルオークラで。



2010/4/14 水曜日


Filed under: 日本語,翻訳業 — admin @ 20:51:07



今年の春が寒くて今もタートルネックが手放せないが、心が燃えています。 :)

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